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Archive for the ‘Slow cooked’ Category

Braised short ribs

Christmas is the one time that I willingly eat roast turkey. I, like most people I’m sure, find it bland and dry and about as far from celebration food as it gets. But tradition being what it is, there’s usually no evading at least some turkey along the way. In an effort to avoid roast dinner every night for a week I’ve made it my mission to introduce a hearty casserole on Christmas Eve to warm us up after a bracing walk over the cliffs and along the beach. I like to think of it as a little stroke of genius since I can make the casserole in advance and keep it chilled on the backdoor step ready to be quickly reheated while you (delete as applicable) do last-minute wrapping/bake more mince pies/prep that darn turkey/snuggle up on the sofa and watch Elf for the hundredth time. These braised ribs are downright comforting, they will make you feel snuggly and warm, particularly if you serve them spooned over a bowl of hot, creamy polenta or mash. As part of a larger meal I served the stew with slices of crust baguette which we used to greedily mop up the meaty, wine sauce liberally dotted with smokey bacon, chunky carrots and buttery chestnuts.

Browned ribs

Part of what makes this dish so good is that the meat is cooked on the bone which my prefered method for casseroles and stews; the bones add so much extra flavour and richness to the overall dish. Short ribs or Jacobs ladder are becoming easier to get hold of round these here parts, there are all of two place I can get them in the vicinity of Exeter! But worry not, shin would make an excellent substitute here. If you succeed in getting short ribs they often come in one large piece, ask your butcher to cut them across the rib into smaller sections. They take a long slow cook to become extremely tender, you’ll know they’re done when the meat slides cleanly off the bone leaving you with hunks of beautifully tender beef. In the last hour or so of cooking (their not terribly fussy) the chestnuts go in to warm through and soak up all the flavour of the beef, wine, garlic and herbs. Retaining their gentle sweetness, chestnuts are a great addition to a winter stew and, for me, particularly Christmassy.

Braising

Braised short ribs with chestnuts and red wine

Serves 4–6

  • olive oil
  • 1.2kg beef short ribs
  • 150g smoked streaky bacon, diced
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 carrots, sliced into thick wedges
  • 2 sticks celery, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 500ml red wine, I used Merlot
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 200g cooked chestnuts
  • 15g butter
  • 200g mushrooms, quartered

Heat a little oil in a large, heavy pan over a low-medium heat. Fry the bacon until golden then add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Cover and cook gently for 15 minutes until soft and translucent. Stir in the flour and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Turn the heat up and add more oil to the pan. Pat the short ribs dry and brown them in batches. Take your time to make sure they get really dark brown. Remove to a plate.

Pour off the fat in the pan and add the wine. Bring to a boil and scrape up all the crusty bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir in the beef stock, vegetables, bacon and tomato paste stirring well to combine.

Put the ribs back in the pan tucking them in amongst the vegetables. Tuck in the rosemary, cover loosely and simmer on the lowest heat for 4 hours adding the chestnuts in the last hour.

The ribs are ready when they are tender and fall off the bone. Remove from the heat and skim off any excess fat. (At this point the stew can also be left to cool then chilled overnight which makes the fat easier to remove and allows the flavours to meld.)

Fry the mushrooms in butter and stir into the stew just before serving. Taste and season with salt and black pepper.

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I usually find that when you buy ribs, even from a good butcher, they come with terrible cooking instructions that result in tough, chewy meat and a wasted opportunity for a great cut of meat. Because ribs are mostly made up of bone and muscle they are more suited to a low and slow cook rather than a quick flash on the barbeque. Taking several hours to cook your ribs at a low temperature make the meat meltingly soft and moist, and if you finish them off on the barbeque or under a hot grill you still get a crispy edges and sticky glaze. I’ve tried several different recipes, most involving keeping the oven at around 90°C for much of the day and they’ve all worked out well (this one is particularly good) but now I’m stuck with a tiny combi oven that won’t go below 150°C I thought tender ribs would just have to wait for the shiny new Electrolux to be installed. And who knows when that may be? (more…)

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Last weekend I plumped for another Riverford-inspired stew for dinner. I had bought a very nice boneless shoulder of pork from a local farm and wanted to complement it with ingredients from the immediate vicinity. My garden is pretty much dormant for the moment save for rosemary, parsley, bay and some overgrown sorrel but the farm shop is well stocked with root veggies, potatoes and lots and lots of lovely kale. I filled a bag with a mix of curly green and Russian red kale as well as some blades of incredibly dark green cavolo nero which has such a fun bubbly surface. A couple of knobbly pink fir apple potatoes (which manage to taste more like a potato than any other variety) came along for the ride, still caked in red Devon soil, and so did a bottle of fine, fruity tasting Cornish Buccaneer ale made by the Wooden Hand Brewery in Truro.

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I suspect this harvest of late tomatoes is my garden’s last hurrah as it dies down for winter. I’m holding out for a few more warm, sunny days to ripen some of the abundant green tomatoes before I start thinking about making chutney and hopefully we’ll have a few pickings from the rainbow chard from the window box. This year was such a mish mash of buying young plants and growing from seed that I’ve forgotten which varieties I have. There are certainly some small Marmandes and Gardener’s Delight, maybe a Shirely or two, but I’ve no idea what the little yellow ones are. They certainly look pretty sitting on my worktop. (more…)

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I like to make use of my free time at the weekend by making long and involved recipes or at least recipes that take a long time to cook, they’re not usually very involved. That way I can get on with the gardening/cleaning/DIY as is required. This recipe for carnitas needs three and a half hours cooking at a low temperature to transform the meat in to meltingly tender, juicy bites which are then crisped up under a hot grill. The Coca Cola may seem an odd addition but it tenderises the pork and caramelizes under the grill.

We ate our carnitas wrapped in toasted flour tortillas with a herb salad, quick pickled onion slices and lashings of sour cream to cool the spicy heat. Between the two of us there should have been enough for leftovers on Monday but it was so good we ended up almost finishing the lot. Good thing I went for a run while it was in the oven…

Coca cola carnitas

Serves 3-4

  • 1-1.5kg boned pork shoulder, rind removed
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp cayenne
  • 1 dried chipotle chilli*
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • ½ can Coca Cola (not diet)
  • 60ml vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 130ºC.

Cut the pork into large pieces, about 5cm. Place in an ovenproof dish so the pieces fit tightly together in one layer.

Add the onion, garlic, spices, bay leaves and salt, mix and pour over the cola.

Pour the oil evenly over the top and tightly cover the dish with foil.

Bake for 3½ hours until the pork is tender enough to pull apart. Strain everything through a wire sieve reserving the liquid in a large bowl or jug.

Pull the pork apart into smaller pieces and discard the cooked onion, garlic, bay leaves and spices.

Once the reserved liquid has settled, skim off the fat and add it back to the pork. The juices can be reduced to make a sauce.

At this point you can cover the pork and keep it in the fridge ready to reheat when needed. Or, to serve straight away, heat the grill up as hot as it goes. Put the pork under the grill for 6-10 minutes until the pieces start getting crisp. Stir well so the un-crisped pieces get to the top and grill for another 6-10 minutes.

Serve with which ever Mexican accompaniments you enjoy – tortillas, rice, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, pickles, salad…

*If you can’t get chipotle chillis, try 1-2tsp smoked paprika.

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